Johannes Kelpius

New information

portrait of kelpius

In 1895 self-taught historian Julius Fredrich Sachse published what is still considered the definitive work on the subject of Johannes Kelpius and The Woman in the Wilderness, The German Pietists of Provincial Pennsylvania.

This work kept extant important and unique information on the subject and has been used by virtually all American writers and researchers since then. Unfortunately, some of the information in this work has been proven to be incorrect.

The most significant error made was the placement of the birthdate of Kelpius as 1673—a date which suggested the young man received his masters degree at age 16 and led his band of spiritual seekers to America at age 20. Evidence which had been known for centuries in Germany proves that Kelpius was actually born in 1667, giving him a post-graduate degree at 22 and leadership at 26. Happily, it also means that Kelpius lived to be 41, not 35 as American researchers and scholars have stated for well over a hundred years.

This information, as well as other newly discovered information on the early life of Kelpius, awaits academic publication. Please follow the links on this page to informative material, including a transcription of a newly discovered (to the West) document written by the student Kelpius while still in Transylvania.

At the time of writing The Woman in the Wilderness, all material extant in the U.S. placed Kelpius' birth at 1673 and that was the date used in the novel.

The image above shows a detail of painting of Kelpius that has been attributed to his contemporary and friend, Christopher Witt